Christmas Stories: 12 Of My Favorite Christmas Records Of All Time

It doesn’t feel completely accurate to say that my wife and I like Christmas music. We freaking love it. We both come from homes that celebrated old school classics as well as newer material. As a result we have a pretty solid and impressive collection of Christmas music. In fact, we actually have an iPod dedicated specifically to Christmas music. When my wife got a new iPod, we took her old mini (which very appropriately is green), cleared out all the old stuff and loaded it up with holiday tunes. As soon as Thanksgiving’s over, we pop that bad boy on and dig those tunes until Christmas. I figured it would be a good time to lay down a list of some of my favorite records to listen to around this time. Hit the jump to dig these crazy tunes. Continue reading Christmas Stories: 12 Of My Favorite Christmas Records Of All Time

Christmas Stories: Elf (2003)

Em took yesterday and today off so we could get ready for Christmas. I really hadn’t realized that Christmas was only a week away. Luckily, we’re pretty well set up. All our presents are coming in from Amazon, most of the decorations are up and we’ve got our tree. We just need to wrap presents, decorate the tree and make the food for when the parents come. While putting lights on the tree today, we turned on Elf, which is one of my two favorite Christmas movies from the last 10 years (the other is Love Actually).

I first saw Elf in college and it really helped me get in the holiday spirit thanks to Will Ferrell’s infectious naivete and joy with all things Christmas. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, it’s got Zooey Deschanel singing my favorite Christmas song of all time “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” so that helped. Christmas time during college was always a bit weird for me, you’re trying to get in the spirit and have a good time with holiday parties and what not, but then you’ve got all these exams looming over you and travel plans back home. One of my favorite parties every year was the post-exam Christmas party. Everyone, even the most intense students, seemed to just cut loose and have a good time at that one.

So, I was really glad when I saw Elf and it got me in the spirit. The story follows Ferrell, as Buddy the elf, but he’s not really an elf. He was an orphan who, as a baby, crawled into Santa’s sack and stowed away to the North Pole. Now, he’s 30 and discovers that he’s not actually an elf and wants to meet his dad James Caan (his mom passed away). So, Buddy heads to New York City and finds his dad married (to Mary Steenburgen) with a kid. Ed Asner plays Santa and Bob Newhart plays Buddy’s adoptive dad Papa Elf. Buddy explores NYC, meets his jerk dad who thinks he’s crazy and becomes part of dad’s family. He also falls for Zooey and they start dating. It’s all very festive and sweet. I know a lot of people are probably sick of Ferrell’s man-child routine (Step Brothers, Old School, Talladega Nights, Semi-Pro, pretty much everything he’s done, really), but it really serves this movie because he’s not playing it with any meanness or irony (like there is in Fred Claus). Buddy really is one of the happiest, nicest people you’ll ever see on screen.

I give a lot of the credit for this goodness to director Jon Favreau. The first 10-20 minutes takes places in the North Pole. There’s just such a great, fantastical consistency to the place. It feels classic and up-to-date at the same time. The difference in size between Buddy and the elves is really well done and outside, you’re treated to several claymation-like characters. Even the snowflakes look big and cut-out and fun. It’s little touches like that that really impressed me about Elf and gave me a lot of hope back when Favreau was announced as the Iron Man director and everyone was freaking out. I actually like this movie so much that it’s not filed away with all the other Christmas DVDs, it’s in the binder with the rest of my pre-moving collection (which quickly filled up once I started working 15 minutes away from a Best Buy). So there you have it, my thoughts on one of my favorite Christmas movies.

Christmas Stories: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is officially my favorite Christmas song. It’s also the one standard that’s been in my life the shortest period of time. Somehow, I have no recollection of this song before hearing Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell sing it in 2003’s Elf. I was instantly hooked and not just because of my (at that time) newfound lady crush Ms. Deshanel. I did a little research (ie typed the song’s title in over at Wikipedia) and found out the song was written by a guy named Frank Loesser back in 1944 to sing with his wife at holiday parties. He eventually sold it to MGM and they used it in a 1949 movie I’ve never heard of called Neptune’s Daughter. Since then tons and tons of people have taken a crack at singing this duet. I did some searching on YouTube and here are a few of my favorite renditions.

Zooey & Will in Elf.

Rainn Wilson & Selma Blair switch gender roles in this Gap video from 2008 that I don’t remember.

Ha, looks like the whole gender switch thing was done first in Neptune’s Daughter in this clip starring Red Skelton & Esther Williams.

Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews. This video is weird, like something out of Twin Peaks.

Lady Antebellum last year on Today. Skip to about 1:25 for the actual song.

This one’s only audio and pictures, but you can’t go wrong with Dean Martin & Martina McBride.

Rudolf Nureyev & Miss Piggy on The Muppet Show (again, switching the parts) in the steam room.

There was also a version on SNL back in ’86 sung by Sigourney Weaver and Buster Poindexter that I’d like to see. Well, I’m off to dinner, have a good one!